A prologue is a scene or event that occurs prior to the point in which the book begins. This section is most often found in fiction. As a rule of thumb, if you have a prologue, you should also have an epilogue.
The prologue should set the stage as it were. It provides information that helps the reader understand the following book. It can be written in character or as a direct address to the reader.
A prologue could:
Provide the backstory to the events in the book. These might include historical events or dramatic moments that caused or influenced later actions.
Intrigue the reader so that he or she continues reading. Consider how to make the information in the prologue arouse the interest of the reader. Can you make it suspenseful or mysterious? Does it trigger strong emotions? Do the characters find themselves in desperate situations in need of resolution?
Be told from a completely different point of view. Perhaps the villain imparts some useful information in the prologue while the main story is told through the eyes of the heroine.
Keep it short! A page or two at most should be enough. The idea is to pique a reader’s interest, not reveal information that is contained later in the book.
Assignment: If you plan to include this section, write your prologue.
The frontispiece is a page with an illustration that is before the title page. It usually is facing the title page on the left hand (verso) side. This picture might be an illustration from the book, the author’s portrait or a dramatic rendition of the book’s topic.
You don’t need a frontispiece, but it is a nice addition. In my books, I often have a smaller version of the cover illustration without any text. Remember, you should have permission to use or own the copyright for any illustration you include.
The half-title page is a page which only has the title of the book on it. Sometimes the title has a bit of decorative script or ornamentation about it. The author’s name, subtitle, publisher and edition are not included on this page. The reverse is usually left blank.
The half-title page is counted as the first numbered page in a printed book even if it doesn’t actually have a number on it. It is part of the front matter and would use lowercase Roman numerals for numbering. It should be on the right side (recto). Hardback books still include the half-title page, but paperback books typically leave it out.
A second half-title page is sometimes included after the front matter before the first page of the first chapter or part. It is almost always identical to the first half-title page.
The title page should have the title, subtitle, author’s name and publishing company and city (or city and state). It also may include editor’s name, illustrator’s name, translator’s name, edition of the book, series number and year of publication.
You may also see:
With an introduction by….
Foreword written by…
The reverse side of the title page is often the copyright page.
If you wish to add illustrations, creatively use font, or add some decorative bits, then feel free as long as the information on the title page is still clearly visible and legible.
Assignment: Design your title page. If you will be including a half-title page, design that. If you have a frontispiece, set it up.
A testimonial is a formal statement testifying to your book’s value and indirectly, your qualifications as an author. Whether you include them in your book or on your landing page, testimonials are powerful influencers that literally sing your book’s praises.
If you plan on including testimonials in your book, you should try to gather them together BEFORE your book is published. Otherwise, you need to add them later and upload your manuscript again.
You could request a testimonial from other writers who have read your book or experts on the topic your book focuses on. Look for endorsements from someone that inspires confidence in you or your book. So although your mom would love to write a testimonial, unless she is an expert in her field, maybe pass.
Asking for a testimonial doesn’t have to be difficult. Begin your request with flattery because it will get you everywhere. Explain how this person or his or her work inspired you, changed your life, or means the world to you. Be sure to state that if this person needs a testimonial for a book or endorsement for a business, that you would be happy to reciprocate in this manner.
Then tell this person exactly what you are requesting from them which is a few lines about your book before a not too distant but not too imminent date.
Finally, ask how he or she would like their name and credentials listed. Offer to include a link to a business or website. If someone prefers to remain anonymous, clarify if using their initials or a pseudonym would be acceptable.
Amazon has a Look Inside feature which could highlight those testimonials very well if you decide to have a testimonial page included in your book. If you do, place them as close to the beginning of the book as you can get since Amazon only shows the first few pages.
Amazon also allows you to add testimonials to the book’s landing page via your Author Central page and they appear on the book’s landing page on Amazon. This is much simpler to update since you aren’t constantly uploading your manuscript for each new testimonial. However, you’ll need to decide where your testimonials would work best for you.
Don’t go overboard with the number of testimonials you use. A page and a half of praises are probably sufficient. If you have more than that, consider including some in your book and others on your landing page so that readers aren’t overwhelmed with your greatness.
Assignment: Gather testimonials to include either in your book or on your book’s landing page.
An epilogue is found mostly in fiction books. This is a short section that concludes the end of the story. It might take place immediately after the events of the story or there could be a leap of years or decades. It can also be used to segue into another series of events that are covered in a sequel to the book.
In a non-fiction book, this section could be called the Conclusion. A conclusion wraps up any loose ends the book doesn’t address. It might talk about what happened to the people mentioned in the book later or if the events in the book predated or caused other historically significant occurrences.
Both an epilogue and conclusion are written as if they were part of the book. If the point of view is different than that of the main text, then this section is properly termed an Afterword.
The Conclusion or Epilogue should only be a page or two. If you can’t wrap things up properly at that point, either continue in a sequel or go back to the main book and add more chapters.
Assignment: Write the Conclusion of your book. Is everything summed up nicely? Are loose ends tied off? Will there be another book that continues the story? This would be the place to mention that.
If anyone contributed to your book, this is also where their information would be listed under the heading entitled List of Contributors.
This section is not the same as the acknowledgments page although you are acknowledging the contributions of these people. It is more than a simple thank you
The List of Contributors includes relevant biographical information, like membership in certain organizations, current position demonstrating expertise in an area, academic affiliations or published works.
Contributors are listed in alphabetical order by last name but written in standard order. So Henry S. Pingleton is not written Pingleton, Henry S. but as Henry S. Pingleton and comes before Johnny Quimby and after Yori Oliver.
You might include editors, translators, publishers, agents, professional proofreaders, or professors in this section. Librarians and research assistants deserve their due as well. Don’t feel as if you have to include every publication each contributor wrote in this list. Instead, include the one or two most relevant to your book topic.
Assignment: Consider whether you need a formal List of Contributors or can get by with the more formal Acknowledgements.
A bibliography can also be called works cited, resources, sources or references. Whichever name you choose, this is a list of books, articles, web sites or other sources that have been consulted in the creation of the book. A bibliography can be alphabetized or organized by theme, topic, or order of appearance.
A bibliography provides credibility to your non-fiction (or occasionally fiction) book. It shows that you didn’t just pull this information out of the air. It also gives readers a place to start if they want to do more research on their own.
An annotated bibliography gives additional publishing information about the article or book, a text description of the source, and how it is relevant to the book.
For each article, excerpt or book used in your book you should list the title, subtitle, author, publisher or website, year and page number. This information is listed in MLA or APA style. Whichever source you choose, you need to be consistent in using it for every entry. Print and online sources are written slightly differently.
Bibliography entries are typically formatted using a hanging indent. The first line of the citation is not indented, but if the entry continues to a second or even third line, those are indented. Formatting in this way makes the list easier to skim.
In MLA, a print book is cited:
Last name of the author, First name of the author. Book Title in Italics. City of the publisher: Publisher, Year Published. 100-102. Print.
If the book was accessed online citation is made this way:
Last name of the author, First name of the author. Book Title in Italics. City of the publisher: Publisher, Year Published. Website Title in Italics. Web. Day Month Year accessed.
If you are citing a website:
Last name of the author, First name of the author. “Article Title in Quotes.” Website Title in Italics. Publisher of Website, Day Month Year article was published. Web. Day Month Year accessed. <URL>.
In APA, a print book is cited:
Last name of author, F. M. (Year Published) Book Title in Italics. City, State: Publisher.
If the book was accessed online citation is made this way:
Last name of author, F. M. (Year Published) Book Title in Italics. Retrieved from http://
If you are citing a website:
Last name of author, F. M. (Year, Month Date Published) ArticleTitle in Italics. Retrieved from http://
If you need help formatting your MLA or APA citation for your bibliography, EasyBib has a tool to assist you that you can access here.
Despite regular policy and algorithm changes, Facebook is where it is at. You would be remiss if you didn’t take advantage of this free way to get some publicity.
Facebook allows you to Like and Comment on other pages using your author profile. Your news feed is separate from your personal page. You won’t be penalized by Facebook when you share your awesome book. Facebook also gives you a way to analyze post engagement, which you don’t have with your personal profile.
First, you need to have a personal Facebook account. Once you have that all setup, you’ll have the option Create at the top. Click on that.
You’ll be given two options, Business or Brand and Community or Public Figure. As an author, you are a public figure, so choose that one. If you offer writing services, then you might want to pick the Business profile.
Type in your name, or pen name, and Author as the category. Add a profile and cover photo. Use your author headshot as your profile picture. Design something interesting with Canva for your cover photo that includes the cover of your book.
Invite people to like your page. Check out Facebook’s tips. Take a look at the settings and add what you need to. You can connect your Instagram account and author website too.
So what should you post? Anything you want! Try for a good variety of types of posts, images, articles, links to book reviews, author interviews and so on. Remember, the idea is to provide content interesting enough for people to follow and engage with you. Then, throw in a self-promotion post every so often.
Facebook has a paid ads option which will be useful once you’ve established a good social media base, so keep that in mind for future marketing sessions.
If your book is any kind of reference book, including cookbooks, you may wish to include an index. An index is an alphabetized list of terms which provides the page number or links to the words in the main text.
Unless you are indexing a proper noun, the index entry begins with a lower-case letter. If the entry is an acronym or abbreviation, spell it out in parentheses.
Try to use concrete nouns as index entries and be as specific as possible. For instance, in a book about herbal remedies, chamomile is a better entry than herbs with flowers.
When you want to cross-reference an entry with another use See also and list the alternate entry. Therefore after the entry chamomile, you might have See alsoherbs for sleep which lets the reader know that additional information about chamomile can be found under the entry herbs for sleep.
After the entry name, list the page numbers that the term can be found. Use a comma to separate the entry name and page numbers.Page numbers should be separated by commas and listed in numerical order. If you are including a page range, use a hyphen between the first and last page.
chamomile, 12, 36, 58-60. See also herbs for sleep
You can include tables and images in your indexing. To let the reader know that the page number refers to an image or table rather than text, then use italics or bold to differentiate the number. Make sure to include a note at the beginning of the index to the effect that “Page numbers in italics refer to images.”
If you have more specific terms under a general heading, indent the sub-categories.
Front and back matter do not need to be included in an index. Indexing is primarily for the main body of text in your book.
The index should be the very last writing you do for your book. You should wait to create an index until after you’ve done your final proofreading and editing. The reason for this is that changes in the text of your book will impact the index page numbers or links.
If you are not sure whether your book needs an index or not, then check other books similar to yours. Do any of them have indexes? Does it benefit the reader? How is it set up? What types of terms are included?
Also ask yourself if you have about 20 primary subjects worth indexing in your book or not. If you don’t, you probably don’t need an index at all.
The American Society for Indexing has an excellent resource about indexing that you can download here. You can find detailed instructions on how to create an index using Microsoft Word here. Pressbooks also gives instructions on how to set up an index with their platform here.
If you needed to get permission to include song lyrics, poems, images, quotations or even entire chapters, this is the section where an author gives credit where credit is due. Format the permission list in either MLA or APA style with the addition of what image or information is being referenced. Credits can be listed in alphabetical order or in order of appearance.
Works that are classified as public domain do not need permission to be reprinted. Examples of public domain material include general information, materials created and published by the U.S. government, expired copyrighted material or those that never had copyright.
You should assume that any work published in the United States first published after 1923 has a current copyright.
Prior to publication, you should have already obtained permission from the copyright holder by sending that person or company a written request for permission to reprint that material. You can usually find the owner and where to contact that person or company in the copyright notice section.
When you ask permission, you need to be specific about which rights you need and where the work will be reproduced. Consider:
Are you requesting exclusive rights to reproduce the creative work?
How long are your requesting permission to use it?
Is there a territory limitation?
Is the copyright owner asking for monetary recompense for its use?
Exclusive rights mean that the creative work under discussion is only to be used by you in your book. Non-exclusive rights allow the copyright owner to grant permission for use to other individuals or companies.
Permission can be granted for a limited time or for all perpetuity. Be clear on how long you expect to require permission to use the copyrighted item.
Sometimes permission can only be granted within certain geographic regions. Be sure to be specific where the image will be reproduced.
Often the copyright owner will request payment for use. The final amount may be negotiable. As a self-published author, you will have to decide how much you are willing to pay for the privilege.
If this seems like too much work, then simply don’t use copyrighted material. Instead, use your own work. If you need an image for your cover, design it yourself using a photo or formats found on Canva. Or you can use work that is available under the Creative Commons license which is free for public use.
Assignment: Verify that you do not need any permissions for any image or text in your book. If you do, set about obtaining the required permission.